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Law School Students, Faculty Celebrate Contributions to the Arts

Harvard Law School.
Harvard Law School. By Grace Z. Li
By Jamie D. Halper, Crimson Staff Writer

Despite rainy weather, crowds of Harvard Law School students, staff, faculty, alumni, and their families gathered in Jarvis Field Friday night for an event recognizing the school’s contributions to the arts as part of its bicentennial celebrations.

The event, called “HLS in the Arts,” spanned two days and is one of the first in year-long series to celebrate the Law School’s 200th birthday. The programming kicked off earlier this month with a talk on the Law School’s history and the unveiling of a memorial honoring slaves of the family that endowed the Law School’s first chair back in the nineteenth century.

The weekend's string of performances began with a set from the HLS Drama Society, which puts on the school’s Parody show each year, and was followed by alumni and professor performances ranging from classical piano to Scottish violin. The school also celebrated its storied place in pop culture history with a video compilation of movie and TV references—including popular films “Legally Blonde” and “Paper Chase”—to the Law School.

On Saturday, following a day full of performances and exhibitions, the school screened a pre-release screening of the documentary “The Soundtrack of Our Lives,” about Law School alumnus and record producer Clive Davis, who also served as the honorary chair of the weekend’s festivities.

Richard J. Lazarus, a Law School professor and the faculty chair of the bicentennial planning committee, said that this year’s celebrations have been in the works since as early as 2014, when he began meeting with faculty, staff, and students to brainstorm ideas for how best to commemorate this milestone in the school’s history.

His said his intention was for the school to spend the year recalling its own achievements, but instead actively showing what makes it so “iconic.”

“We knew we didn’t want one event. We also knew that we didn’t want it to be sort of an event which said ‘Harvard Law School is great, and all we’re going to talk about for a year is how great Harvard Law School is,’” Lazarus said. “The basic idea was that we would in a sense show Harvard’s greatness, if it’s great, by what we did, rather than by talking about it.”

Lazarus said the event was for students to enjoy, but added it was equally important for the school’s staff, who were both attending and performing over the source of the weekend.

“Students come and go, but the staff don’t,” Lazarus said. “We have some very, very gifted professional, musicians on the staff, too.”

The events of the bicentennial will continue throughout the year, with its centerpiece event—The October Summit, a conference on contemporary legal issues—happening next month.

—Staff writer Jamie D. Halper can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @jamiedhalper.

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